What is Safety Glass?
Even if you don’t always realize it, there are glass products around you all the time throughout your daily life. From our bathrooms and kitchen to our cars, buses, and offices, glass is used in almost every space we utilize. That’s why it’s important that the glass products around us are built with safety precautions in place. The More Than Glass team has put together this guide to help you understand the safety features of the glass that you encounter throughout your daily life.
Types of Safety Glass
Safety glass consists of any type of glass that has been strengthened beyond the normal annealed glass strength. There are many different types of safety glass that are used around the world today.
- Tempered Glass: Tempered glass is glass that has undergone a heating and cooling process to strengthen it against air pressure and the impact of small items. If broken, tempered glass shatters into thousands of small pieces.
- Laminated Glass: This type of glass is formed together by sealing a layer of polyvinyl butyral between two sheets of glass under very high pressure and heat.
- Bullet Resistant Glass: This type of glass is very thick and is made of several layers of laminate and glass.
How It’s Made
There are many different types of safety glass that are each made using different methods to strengthen the glass. Laminated glass, for example, is glass that consists of two sheets of glass that have been joined together by a clear layer of plastic in between. For others, like tempered glass, heating and cooling methods are used. The rate of cooling directly affects the strength of the sheet glass. The regular process of cooling for annealed glass is very slow. By speeding up the rate of cooling, glass can be strengthened dramatically.
Tempered glass, for example, is made by first cutting the glass into the desired shape and size. All jagged edges are then sanded off of the glass and it is subsequently washed to remove any small fragments. The glass then begins its journey through the heating process where it enters a kiln and is heated to 620 degrees Celsius or 1,148 degrees Fahrenheit. Once the maximum heat has been reached throughout the entire piece of glass, the cooling procedure, or “quenching”, begins. During this short process, high-pressure air is blasted onto the surface of the glass from various angles. After the outside of the glass has cooled, this process ends and the hot interior of the glass slowly begins to cool. As the interior cools, it pulls on the cooled, exterior glass and further enhances the panel’s strength as a whole.
The result of each of these strengthening processes is a durable piece of glass that can easily withstand the daily wear and tear of kitchen or bathroom use. In the end, tempered glass is perfect for the home as it is resistant to moisture, heat, mold, and staining.
Bullet resistant glass is either made of one, incredibly thick piece of acrylic glass or is more commonly comprised of numerous layers of glass and laminated polycarbonate. The thickness of the glass or the number of layers often depends on the level of security needed.
Where It’s Used
Since tempered glass is designed to shatter into many pieces if broken, it is often used in glass products that are used by people. Tempered glass is found in automobile glass as well as kitchen appliances. It’s also used in glass shower enclosures and many of the glass features found in bathrooms.
When laminated glass breaks, the pieces of glass stick to the layer of polyvinyl butyral instead of flying or falling out of place. A vehicle’s windshield is made of laminated glass so that the pieces of glass cannot fall down on the driver and passengers in the event of a collision. These strengthened windshields also contribute to the overall structural integrity of your vehicle. Bullet resistant glass is less common and is primarily used in banks and other secure buildings.
If you are concerned about installing safe glass features in your home, contact More Than Glass today. We specialize in custom pieces that are safe for you and your family. Our highly trained team is available to answer all of your questions by phone at (804) 746-3086 or online at www.morethanglass.com.